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Jan. 30, 2021

Destination Wedding Planning Checklist

 

When discussing where we wanted to get married my fiance and I were a bit stuck. We were going to be moving in 2019 and neither our old state or new home felt like the right place. When sharing these feelings with my Mom she suggested we consider a destination wedding. At first, I thought it was a crazy idea - mostly because I didn’t think it would be budget-friendly or feasible but after bringing the idea to Jon we decided that a Mexico wedding was exactly what we wanted. To us, the idea of going to Cabo to get married represented what we want our relationship to be: fun, upbeat and never without a surprise!

 

Once we had a location picked out there was a long road ahead of us as far as the planning process, but I wanted to compile everything we have learned along the way so when you pick the perfect place to say “I do” you are ready!

 

1. Pick the destination 

This may be an obvious first step but it is important to consider the following: how expensive are flights and hotels to & at this destination? Will you be able to invite as many people as you wanted to if it wasn’t a destination? How much does the average wedding cost in your destination town? These are just a few thought starters to get your planning started.

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2. Decide on Your Planner 

Is it going to be you or a family member? For us, we didn’t want that responsibility and quite frankly wanted it to be as stress-free as possible and therefore it was worth the money. Now as the wedding is closer I realize that without a planner I may have ended up spending much more. We were choosing between a planner in Mexico or in the States and interviewed quite a few of both! We ended up going with Table 6 Productions because they have experienced at our venue & understood our vision!

 

3. Dress for the Occasion

Don’t pick out your Justin Alexander gown until you decide on your location! I always thought I wanted a long sleeve gown, but once we chose Mexico I had to adjust. Consider the climate of your destination - which fabric is going to keep you cool or warm? Also, consider the culture? Mexico has such a rich culture full of beautiful women in traditional dresses. I wanted a dress that would fit in with the scenery instead of standing out! I recommend going to your local Justin Alexander retailer and have a stylist help you with your vision!

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4. Visit your Venue

I cannot stress this enough - you NEED to visit your venue or have someone you trust to see it. This is another expense for a destination wedding but the horror stories I was told about what happens when you don’t was enough to book myself a flight to Mexico! Most destination planners will factor in a planning trip into their cost which is also an important extra to pay attention to when picking who you want to work with.

 

5. Notify Friends & Family

A typical save the date and invite timeline is going to be pushed up for a destination wedding because your friends and family need time to book flights and hotels! Many people will use it as their vacation and need to request off up to a year in advance - as soon as you know let your guests know! We went about this by having parents send out an email informing family we didn’t want to miss it of our plans and sent out Save the Dates 10 months before our wedding. Our invites will go out 4 months before and our website went live after the Save the Dates.

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6. Research Your Vendors

For any wedding, you should research your vendors but especially for a destination wedding. Not every country has the same tastes, culture, and ways of doing business. While one country standard practice may include a deposit another may charge you upfront. Because you don’t have the luxury of multiple meetings we made sure to visit each vendor on our planning trip after we read reviews and have our planners reach out to them quite a few times. 

 

7. Plan a Thank You Experience

While some families may have traveled even if we were getting married in the States it was important to us that we showed our appreciation for everyone making a trip. Instead of gift bags upon check-in, we are hosting an extra event the night before our wedding to say thank you and welcome to Mexico! We want our guests to feel pampered and decided to put money into special experiences for them rather than put money into a bag with a bottle of Advil and a mini water bottle. If your budget doesn’t allow an extra event consider a way to bring your destination home with them - whether it be a memory or an item!

 

8. Make it a Vacation

While it is a wedding, it is also a vacation! Don’t forget to give yourself time to enjoy the place you are visiting. For us, this means going two days early and spending time with just our Bridal Party. If work or money doesn’t allow for an extended stay block out time in your day to walk the beach or explore the mountains and take in all the scenery. After all, you made it that far and you both deserve it!

 

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I hope these helped get your thought process started and inspire you to plan a destination wedding of your own! See you soon Mexico!

 

- Emma Walker

@itsemmakelley

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